Safety, comfort and agility are three of the prime attributes of the new C-Class which is being unveiled to the international public for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show. The Saloon excels with a many-faceted product concept which meets the expectations of various customer target groups. With the AVANTGARDE, ELEGANCE and CLASSIC lines, Mercedes-Benz offers three individual models whose emphasis is on either comfort or agility. As well as displaying the exemplary refinement for which Mercedes is renowned, all model variants share the latest, state-of-the-art technology. This includes the newly developed AGILITY CONTROL package with situation-responsive shock absorber control, the Intelligent Light System with five different lighting functions and the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system. There is a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines with up to 13 percent more output than the preceding models, accompanied by up to six percent lower fuel consumption.
With a body length of 4581 millimetres, the Saloon is 55 millimetres longer than its predecessor. The body width has been increased by 42 millimetres to 1770 millimetres, and the wheelbase by 45 millimetres to 2760 millimetres. These dimensions provide the framework for a generously sized interior and, therefore, enhanced comfort. The front shoulder room has increased by 40 millimetres, for example.
The design of the new C-Class is based on the modern Mercedes idiom, which reflects the technical superiority of cars bearing the famous star with taut lines and large, tranquil surfaces. The pronounced wedge-shape of the front end serves to emphasise attributes such as agility and performance. Even more so than ever before on a Mercedes Saloon, the radiator grille is used as a distinguishing feature to position the model variants more clearly. Three extended, horizontal louvres and a large, centrally positioned Mercedes star characterise the AVANTGARDE model as a traditional design feature of sporty Mercedes models. Together with the sporty appointments, this feature emphasises the youthful, agile appearance of this C-Class. This sporty presence can be enhanced even further with the AMG sports package, which includes striking front and rear aprons plus side skirts.
For the ELEGANCE model, Mercedes-Benz employs a three-dimensional, louvred radiator grille with a high-gloss paint finish to accentuate other classic brand attributes such as comfort and luxury. In CLASSIC guise, the new C-Class is deliberately understated and remains true to its tradition yet offers the same technical innovations as the other two model variants.
This "product-in-product" concept enables Mercedes customers to accentuate individual choices, and configure the C-Class to suit their personal taste and lifestyle even more emphatically than before. All the models offer the refinement for which Mercedes is renowned and an extraordinary driving experience, achieved by virtue of further technical improvements. Both through its outstanding long-distance comfort and its dynamic handling, the C-Class sets new standards in this market segment.
Shock absorbers automatically adapt to the driving situation
AGILITY CONTROL – this is the term used by Mercedes-Benz for all new and further developments that improve both comfort and agility in equal measure. This standard package includes the AGILITY CONTROL suspension, which controls the shock absorber forces according to the driving situation: when driving normally with low shock absorber impulses, the damping forces are automatically reduced for a noticeable improvement in ride comfort – but without any compromise in handling safety. When driving more dynamically, the maximum damping forces are set and the car is effectively stabilised. The AGILITY CONTROL steering for the new C-Class has a ratio of 14.5, and is therefore six percent more direct than the steering of the preceding model. The likewise included AGILITY CONTROL gearshift reflects the sporty character of the C-Class with short shift travel and precise gear changing.
Mercedes-Benz has also developed the ADVANCED AGILITY package with a sporty driving mode, which will become optionally available from autumn 2007. This offers the driver a choice of two gearshift programmes: Sport and Comfort. Within these programmes the shock absorber for each wheel has infinitely variable electronic control. A newly developed speed-sensitive steering with a more direct ratio, variable centring and adaptation of the accelerator characteristics and automatic transmission shift points is also included in the package.
ADAPTIVE BRAKE is another new development in the area of running-gear technology. This is based on the technology of the S-Class and provides additional support functions for even more safety and comfort. Examples include Start Off Assist for uphill gradients, priming of the braking system in critical situations and light contact to dry the brake discs in wet conditions.
Supercharged four-cylinder engines: lower fuel consumption, higher output
The petrol versions excel by delivering even lower fuel consumption with increased performance: the C 180 KOMPRESSOR consumes 0.3 litres of premium petrol per hundred kilometres less than before, while combined fuel consumption in the C 200 KOMPRESSOR has been reduced by 0.5 litres per hundred kilometres. At the same time, the output has been increased by up to 13 percent, while the peak torque is on average 18 percent higher. The four- and six-cylinder units not only excel with powerful responsiveness, but also contribute to the excellent ride comfort of the Saloon with their improved smoothness. The entry-level petrol version – the C 180 KOMPRESSOR – has an output of 115 kW/156 hp and a peak torque of 230 Nm. Meanwhile, the C 200 KOMPRESSOR develops 135 kW/184 hp and a maximum torque of 250 Nm at 2800 rpm.
Fuel consumption of four-cylinder CDI engines reduced by 0.3 litres per hundred kilometres
Further development of the four-cylinder units was also the main focus when it came to the diesel engines. The engineers in Stuttgart have made further improvements to the engine, turbocharger and common-rail direct injection, modifying more than 90 components. As a result of these measures, fuel consumption has been reduced by up to 0.3 litres per hundred kilometres: in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), the C 200 CDI (100 kW/136 hp) and C 220 CDI (125 kW/170 hp) are able to cover one hundred kilometres on just 6.1 litres of fuel. The C 220 CDI is particularly economical on fuel at low revs. The peak torque is an impressive 400 Nm at 2000 rpm – 18 percent higher than for the previous model.
The sophisticated V6 engines for the C-Class remain the same as before. There is a choice of three petrol models developing 150 kW/204 hp, 170 kW/231 hp or 200 kW/272 hp. The six-cylinder unit in the new C 320 CDI develops 165 kW/224 hp. With the exception of the C 350, all new C-Class models are equipped with a six-speed transmission featuring AGILITY CONTROL gearshift as standard. The top-of-the-range C 350 has 7G-TRONIC, the world's first seven-speed automatic transmission, as standard equipment. This is also available for the other six-cylinder C-Class models on request.
Lifecycle assessment: CO2 emissions reduced by 15 percent
It is not just the modified engines, consistent lightweight design and excellent aerodynamics which help to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the new C-Class. A lifecycle assessment certified by the German technical inspection authorities (TÜV), covering everything from the very first stage of production to future recycling, revealed that the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been cut by a total of 15 percent.
The results of the lifecycle assessment are testament to the immense progress achieved by Mercedes-Benz in the field of product-oriented environmental protection in recent years. By way of example, the experts calculated that the total energy requirement of the new C-Class is 125 gigajoules lower than that of the previous model produced in the year 2000, equivalent to a fuel saving of around 3800 litres per vehicle. What's more, carbon dioxide emissions are 9000 kilograms per vehicle (15 percent) lower than for the previous model.
To perform a vehicle lifecycle assessment, the environmental experts take into account the entire lifecycle, from the first stage of production to ultimate recycling, including the production of material and components as well as use of the vehicle over 200,000 kilometres. To do this, they had to analyse up to 40,000 individual processes. The new C-Class is the only vehicle in the world in this market segment to have been awarded the Environment Certificate by the TÜV, an independent body, thus underlining the Saloon's environmentally friendly product development.
Latest Mercedes inventions ensure outstanding safety
During the course of its development, the new C-Class successfully passed more than 100 crash tests, including the particularly demanding, in-house impact tests of which some go well beyond the legal requirements. Passing these is a precondition for the highest accolade in automotive safety: the Mercedes star.
Occupant protection is based on an intelligently designed bodyshell, 70 percent of which consists of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel. Compared to the previous series, Mercedes-Benz has enlarged the deformation zones even further and optimised the energy flows. The front-end structure of the new C-Class has four independently acting impact levels, which enable forces to be distributed over a wide area while bypassing the passenger cell.
The safety technology in the interior has been complemented with the very latest protection systems. Seven airbags are included as standard equipment: two adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, a kneebag for the driver, two sidebags in the front seat backrests and two large windowbags which extend from the A-pillar to the C-pillar during a side impact. The driver, front passenger and the passengers on the outer rear seats also benefit from belt tensioners and belt force limiters as standard. The standard head restraints operate on the NECK PRO principle: during a rear-end collision the padded surfaces are pushed forward within milliseconds to support the heads of the driver and front passenger at an early stage. This significantly reduces the risk of whiplash injuries.
Mercedes-Benz has developed flashing brake lights as a major help in reducing rear-end collisions, and these are also standard equipment in the new C-Class. If the driver needs to brake hard at speeds in excess of 50 km/h, the brake lights flash rapidly to warn drivers following behind.
PRE-SAFE® is another special feature of the new Mercedes Saloon. This preventive occupant protection system (optional) is linked to active safety systems such as ESP® and Brake Assist, and is able to recognise critical driving manoeuvres at a very early stage. If the C-Class is in danger of crashing as a result of heavy understeer or oversteer, or if the driver needs to brake very heavily in a dangerous situation, PRE-SAFE® activates certain systems as a precaution to prepare the vehicle and its occupants for an impending accident. Accordingly the passive safety phase does not begin when the impact has already occurred, but before an impending collision.
The Intelligent Light System developed by Mercedes-Benz is also available in this vehicle class for the first time. Powerful bi-xenon headlamps provide five different lighting functions suited to typical driving and weather conditions: country mode, motorway mode, enhanced fog lamps, the Active Light System and cornering lights. Yet another important contribution by Mercedes-Benz to safer driving in poor visibility.
Interior design "cast from a single mould"
When developing the cockpit, Mercedes designers took their lead from sporty models and included clearly laid-out dial instruments such as may be found in roadsters or coupés. Silver-coloured bezels, black dial faces, white markings and glowing orange needles perfectly combine form with function for a high value impression and easy legibility.
Equally clearly laid out and well-arranged, the two-tone dashboard and centre console of the new C-Class form a harmonious unit in line with the "design cast from a single mould" principle. The same applies to the integration of the colour display at the upper centre of the dashboard. This is perfectly positioned within the driver's line of vision, but can also be covered or folded away as required, without switching off the radio, navigation system or other units linked to the display. If the pivoting cover of the display aperture is closed, the infotainment units continue to operate.
New control concept for clarity and comfort
The central colour display is part of the new control and display concept which the new C-Class has adopted from the luxury-class Mercedes models. Its major advantage is rapid access to frequently used functions, which means that the driver does not need to relearn, is able to maintain familiar habits and feels at home immediately. All the control and display elements necessary and important during a journey are located in the cockpit, i.e. in immediate proximity to the driver.
In the same way, linking the standard multifunction steering wheel with the instrument cluster is an important precondition for rapid access to a wide range of information and functions in the driver's direct line of vision. Other functions such as infotainment are shown by the display at the centre of the dashboard. The driver and front passenger are able to control the radio, navigation system or telephone by using a controller on the centre console, or access the main menus using direct selection keys.
COMAND APS provides voice-operated control, a music server and DVD navigation
The Audio 20, Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS systems are a range of newly developed, optional infotainment units for C-Class passengers. They all feature a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, as well as a Bluetooth interface which wirelessly connects the mobile phone to the hands-free system. In the Audio 50 APS system, the route guidance information – some of it as a visually attractive automatic junction zoom display – is shown by means of arrows on the fixed colour display (4.9-inch) in the dashboard. An integral 6-CD changer and the voice-operated control system LINGUATRONIC are available on request.
The multimedia system COMAND APS offers even more functions than before in the new C-Class. One new feature is a Europe-wide navigation system whose data are stored on a hard disc (30 gigabytes). The high-resolution maps are shown on a colour display (7-inch) which pivots away and disappears beneath a cover at the touch of a button. Other functions of COMAND APS include a music server with a four-gigabyte memory, a DVD-player for video and audio, and the voice-operated control system LINGUATRONIC, which Mercedes-Benz has likewise improved further: the driver no longer needs to spell out the names of countries, towns or roads, but is able to speak them as whole words. The voice-operated control system is just as convenient when selecting radio stations or entries in the telephone directory.
C-Class the bestseller in the Mercedes line-up
The new C-Class Salon replaces a model series of which more than 1.4 million units have been sold since spring 2000. All in all, Mercedes-Benz has delivered more than two million of the Saloon, Estate and Sports Coupé models in the previous C-Class to customers all over the world. This makes the C-Class the bestseller in the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range. Germany is the largest market for the C-Class, accounting for around 30 percent of worldwide sales.
New C-Class – ready to defend its DTM title in 2007
The C-Class is also causing a sensation in the sporting world. Shortly after the premiere of the successful Saloon version, the engineers and technical staff were already busy putting the finishing touches to the racing version for the coming German Touring Car Masters (DTM) season. The latest edition of the most successful race car in DTM history will celebrate its world premiere in Geneva. By the time of the first race at the Hockenheimring on April 22, the 2007 C-Class will be ready to write the latest chapter in Mercedes-Benz' impressive DTM history. After all, the C-Class has claimed 54 victories and five championships since the year 2000. Lining up alongside last year's champion Bernd Schneider will be two-time Formula-1 world champion Mika Hakkinen who will be confident that the new model can bring him further title success. Also in the team driving the new model are last season's DTM runner-up Bruno Spengler and youngster Jamie Green.
From computer to racetrack in ten months
Selecting the ideal car for the DTM 2007 season was easy. It was decided that the DTM racing version of the new C-Class would be launched at the same time as the standard-production model. First of all, the requirements stipulated in the DTM technical regulations had to be checked to ensure that the dimensions and form of the C-Class were suitable for development as a DTM racing car. "As long as the dimensions of the standard-production model comply with the technical regulations, there are no major hurdles to overcome," explains Gerhard Ungar, technical director of H.W.A., the company that has been building and running DTM racing cars for Mercedes-Benz since 1999.
Development, design and construction began in March 2006 when Ungar and his colleagues received the CAD data for the new model. Around ten months later – on January 24, 2007 – the new C-Class for the DTM made its debut on the racetrack. At the roll-out and initial testing in Estoril/Portugal, Bernd Schneider and Bruno Spengler were behind the wheel of the car that won the 2006 DTM title. Beneath the new body are a whole host of modified components, notably the engine and the wheel suspension. The V8 engine with a cylinder angle of 90 degrees, a displacement of four litres and four valves per cylinder has been further optimised, particularly with respect to driveability. Equipped with two air restrictors, each with a diameter of 28 millimetres, as stipulated in the regulations, the engine now develops 350 kW/approx. 476 hp at 7500 rpm and delivers a peak torque of 500 Nm. This power limiting boosts reliability and reduces costs – important parts of the DTM philosophy. The engineers were given the most technical freedom when it came to designing the wheel suspension.
"The toe-in and camber curves offer great scope for further improving both handling and driving dynamics," explains Gerhard Ungar. The aim is to put together the best possible technical package which works well on all racing circuits. Given the potential of the new race car, Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief Norbert Haug is very optimistic: "The C-Class can justifiably call itself a true champion in DTM history, since no other model has won anywhere near as many races and championships. The racing version of the new C-Class that is being unveiled in Geneva is making its DTM debut to coincide with the launch of the standard-production C-Class. Like the production version, the DTM model is an exceptionally beautiful car with exquisite detailing and smart technical solutions, all of which are designed to ensure that the C-Class continues its tradition of winning races. In the 106 DTM races that the C-Class has taken part in – in the mid-nineties and since 2004 – the C-Class has notched up 54 victories. And in the six seasons for which it has been involved, it has achieved four title successes and twice been runner-up. We want to build on this success with the new racing C Class."